This section is from the book "The Lady's Assistant: Family Physician", by P. Davey and B. Law.
This disease generally attacks persons in the autumn, and sometimes in the spring; it is preceded with a weariness, a heaviness and coldness of the extreme parts, which is followed with a chilness and shivering, then a fever, inquietude and thirst; the pulse is quick and narrow, the appetite is loft, and the body costive. In a day or two the patient feels a racking pain sometimes in one joint, sometimes in another, but more frequently in the wrists, shoulders and knees; often shifting from place to place, leaving a red-ness in the place last visited: sometimes it attacks the loins, and the lower part of the back bone.
When the distemper is mild, that is, when there is a fever with rheumatic pains without a swelling, the cure may be completed in a few days by twice or thrice bleeding, and promoting a diaphoresis with vinegar whey; this is made by boiling a pint of milk with a pint of water, and then turning it with two spoonfuls of vinegar. But when the rheumatism is attended with an inflammatory swelling of the joints, sweating is improper, and the cure is to be obtained by repeated and almost daily bleedings, till the patient's fever is gone, and the pains are removed or easier; for this distemper generally attacks such as can bear these evacuations. In this case, when the pain and swelling of the joints remain, apply three or four leeches to the part where the swelling and inflammation are greatest; and let the blood ooze out till it flops of itself; the repetition of this method need not be limited: but if there is not both an inflammation and a swelling, leeches will do no good. Internal medicines are of little service, and the diet must be of the lowest kind; nor will outward applications avail any thing while the fever or inflammation remains.
If the rheumatism is confined to one part of the body with little or no fever, it may be cured by bleeding once, and sweat-ing, with the following draughts: "Take half a dram of "gum guaiac dissolved in the yolk of an egg, two ounces "of spring water, half an ounce of strong alexiterial wa-"ter, an ounce of the spirit of Mindererus, and two drams "of the syrup of orange peel; mix them, and divide them in-"to two draughts." One of these is to be taken over night, and the other early the next morning. If the patient does not sweat easily, give sixty drops of the balsam of guaiacum three or four times a day.
The chronic rheumatism, which is either the remains of a rheumatick fever, or proceeds from neglected colds, requires the taking away eight ounces of blood once in eight or ten days, as long as it continues sizy, or the complaints remain : between whiles let the patient be purged in the following manner : "Take two scruples of gum guaiac dissolved in the *' yolk of an egg, of spring water two ounces, of nutmeg "water two drams, of the syrup of orange peel a dram; "mix them for a draught to be taken in a morning, keeping "within doors." On the intermediate days give sixty drops of spirit of hartshorn thrice in twenty four hours, if the joints are swelled and inflamed, leeches are to be used as before; but if there is no inflammation, the aching parts must be rubbed with flannel, and anointed with the volatile or saponaceous liniment: when this course has been continued some time, the recovery will be hastened by the use of the cold hath and riding. In some cafes, it will be proper to give a scruple of calomel over night, and to purge it off the next morning; this may be repeated once or twice a week. When every thing else fails, recourse must be had to the gout-powder mentioned under the article of the gout.